Monday, May 26, 2008

Managing Your Pain

I came across an article which may prove to offer some helpful advice to those of us suffering from chronic unrelenting pain.

Pain can be devasting. It can interrupt and disrupt your entire life. One of the suggested ways to help with managing your pain was diet. The suggestion was that by including foods in your diet which have a chemical composition that is anti-inflammatory, they should help to reduce any pain cause by inflammation such as arthritis.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Diet. The impact of diet on pain rests on the fact that inflammation is a major cause of pain. So, the theory goes, if you can reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body, you can reduce the pain.

For instance, studies find that certain antioxidants such as glutathione can help tissue recover from inflammation. One study found that supplementing with the nutrient n-acetyl-cystine, a precursor to glutathione, can reduce pain from nerve damage.

Other dietary-related evidence:

he nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondrotin sulfate can benefit patients with osteoarthritis.

Dietary soy and tart cherries contain antioxidants that may reduce neuropathic pain. In fact, cherries, which are high in anti-inflammatory anthocyanins, plant-based chemicals that give the fruit its dark red color, have been linked anecdotally to reduction of pain in arthritis and gout, with animals studies showing it can reduce swelling and inflammation in rats.

Sweet foods (think chocolate) can stimulate the release of pain-relieving endorphins in the brain

Oh, puhleeze, bring on the chocolate!

To read the article in full plcease go to the link below:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Entertaining Angels Unawares

My grandmother had an old 78 recording of her friend, Sir Harry Lauder, singing a song called "The End of the Road" that she played as often as she could. Gramma loved that song. It was in many ways, the theme song for her life, the lives of her children and her grandchildren.

With a good stout strong heart and an end in view, We can cut short many a mile… (The End of the Road)

Fill your heart with unconditional love and share it with your neighbours, your friends and family. Share it with strangers too.

My mother often told the story that during the depression they had very little of anything including food. One day while she was sitting on the front steps to eat her lunch – a peanut butter sandwich - a man came along, out of work, out of money, out of dignity and out of hope. He asked Gramma for some money.

My grandfather had died leaving Gramma to raise 4 girls on her own empty-handed and therefore Gramma had no money to give the stranger. She couldn't give him any work. But Gramma could and did give him a good stout dose of `heart' along with my mother's peanut butter sandwich!

Mom missed one meal but the stranger received nourishment to give him the physical strength to keep on going, and because no one ever left Gramma's without it, he also received a big slice of dignity and hope to help make his road seem a little shorter.

Gramma's road through life was neither easy nor short and there were never any shortcuts but she never once gave up. She kept a good strong heart, continuing to give and share with others, a song in her soul and laughter ever close to the edge of her lips until she came to the end of her road.

Mom never forgot giving up her lunch that day. It's easy to give when your pockets and tummies are full, but it is not so easy when they empty. Gifting should come from the heart and be wrapped in the twin blessings of hope and dignity.

My mother and grandmother were both masters of giving in this way. No, Mom never forgot her lost lunch and she never once regretted it.

Many years later, when Mom was too ill and weak to help herself and her children's physical strengths were failing too, Mom needed help to get down the stepped walkway and into the car to go to one of her medical appointments. It began to look as if we weren't going to be able to get her there. It had taken every last ounce of our combined strength to get to the bottom of the stairs descending from the front door. There was still a long walk downhill to get to the car.

As Mom sat and rested on the steps, a stranger, seeming to appear from nowhere was taking a walk past our house. He came up and offered Mom his help. He then effortlessly picked her up and carried her down the hilly path to the car and gently placed her inside the car on the seat without causing her any additional pain at all.

This stranger gifted Mom that day from his heart and liberally wrapped it in blessings of hope and dignity.

Although we had lived in that neighbourhood for ten years, and knew most of our neighbours by sight, we had never seen this gentle man before. Nor have we ever seen this him since.

Whoever he was, whatever his name, to us, just then, he was an angel whose presence was most gratefully received.

How about you? Have you, too, encountered angels unawares?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Make a Child Smile

I want to tell you all about a wonderful project. Make a child smile was founded in May of 1998, by Alexandra Bakker.

The Make A Child Smile Organization, also known as MACS, has been a source of support to children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses and their families. Emotional support is provided by creating the opportunity for people to visit the MACS website and learn about the children and their illnesses.

Each month, new children are featured. A picture and biography describing the child and information about their family is published on the website. Hundreds of 'net surfers, schools, service organizations, girls/boys scouts and church groups use the MACS website as a philanthropic project where they can send cards, letters and small gifts to the featured children and their siblings through postal mail.
In December of 2000, MACS was granted tax-exempt status so that it could expand its mission to include fundraising efforts in order to provide financial assistance to qualifying families for help with medical, funeral expenses or other costs associated with the child's illness.

Their Mission

To provide emotional and financial support to families whose children suffer from chronic or life-threatening illnesses and also give those who visit the MACS website the opportunity to participate by sending mail to the children.

From the MACS website:

Each month 3 children are featured. You are always free to decide each month whethor or not you will participate, and whether or not you will send mail to 1, 2 or all 3 featured children. Last month I chose to send an ATC to each of the featured children (an ATC is an artist trading card - think the cards we used to get in bubble gum packaages; their size 2.5 x 3.5 inches and can be hand drawn or collage with stickers, etc.).


During the last few months of my mother's life, I remember fondly, how thrilled and happy she was to receive 'angels of hope' each day in the mail. Even though she was in excessive amounts of pain, each package raised her spirits and brought joy to her soul. I know first hand just how precious and delightful a gift how much light the simple gift of a card can bring to a family struggling through the darkness.

If you are able, I welcome you to join with me in supporting these children and their families through this project. Just follow the link below.

Make a Child Smile Project

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A work in progress - A tutorial - Etsy Bloggers Team Carnival

I like to begin by scanning a photo(s) of my chosen subject into the computer and uploading into a software program called Paint-It. If I am making a composite drawing I will most likely try different combinations in the Paint-It program as it is both easier and faster than making several different sketches.

If I am working from a live model, then I will make several quick sketches and then scan those into Paint-It. It is fairly simple to move things about.

Once I have decided on the composition I will then begin the drawing. At this stage I concentrate on making an outline of the main elements of the drawing. The details will come later. It is important to get the outline drawing as exact as possible. This is the foundation for everything else to come.

I like to rough in the eyes and nose first. If these features are not 'right' the whole drawing is 'bin' material. It also makes me feel not so alone!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Keep on to the end of the road ...

Regional Contact, a tv program serving Ottawa, Ontario and its environs, televised a review of a retired high school teacher and artist, Ozborn Muma. Oz lives in Winchester. He has been an artist all of his life and credits art as the reason he has lived so long. He is in his 90's (at the time of airing).

He visits a local nursing home three times a week and often brings drawing puzzles for the residents to solve. The elements in the drawings are clues to solving the mystery. Needless to say, the residents look forward to his visits.

He likes to work in many different media. His portraits are magnificent. His art pieces fill the walls and surfaces (tables, etc.) of his home.

He said he would keep on creating art as long as he could keep on creating. During the interview he did just that, kept on working on a portrait. His work is full of lively details.

So far as I could discover, Oz does not have an internet presence.

In summing up his philosophy about art, Oz stated simply, "Art is truth".

May we all keep on creating as long as we can.

You go Oz!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Luminosity or a Blended Approach

Do you prefer luminosity or a more blended approach?

I've been studying pastel techniques with 2 different instructors. One prefers to maintain the luminosity of soft pastel. The other prefers a more blended approach.

I've done a few quick practice exercises using both techniques.

If you look at my piece "Do Not Disturb", you will see that I naturally gravitate to the blended approach.

To achieve luminosity, color and tone are built up by layering. No blending. No fingers in the "pie'! The object(s) appear to be lit from behind. It is quite an impressive technique.

I am trying it out on an 8 x 10 oil pastel of my Yorkie. It is is a quick technique in pastel. Deadly in color pencil (color pencil artists have my utmost respect for their perseverance). I do have to confess though. I couldn't take it. I had to give in. I have already blended the tonque and the eyes.

I'm a blender. Are you a blender too?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Etsy Bloggers Featured Blogger for May 2008 - It's a Cozy Life!

Cozy is a 50-something empty nester from Arizona. Cozy is happiest when her hands are busy knitting or crocheting. According to her bio her dream is to design a lace wedding shawl like the ones found in Europe. I can't wait to see it.

Cozy is indeed a very busy lady with shops on Etsy, Silkfair and Ecrater. All are filled with her beautiful and meticulously worked creations. There is a creamy, dreamy scarf in her Etsy shop that is so scrumptious! Find it here:

Cozy is a multi-talented crafts person. Besides knitting and crocheting, she has also tried her hand at needlepoint, embroidery, quilting, tole painting and sewing. She has also done leather work and ceramics.

Cozy is a warm-hearted lady who is a very active member of our Etsy Bloggers Team willingly taking on a variety of tasks. She is kind and helpful, especially to newbies like me. I thoroughly enjoy reading her posts and have learned so much from her in just a very short time.

Please visit her blog:

And be sure to visit one or more of her lovely shops. Click on the Mini shop below to go to her Etsy store.

Buy Handmade

Congratulations Cozy on being our May 2008 Featured Blogger!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Miss you Mom.
You knew that, right?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Someone reminded me yesterday that
it isn't the breaths you take in life that counts,
its the times that take your breath away.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Learning to Fix the things that can be fixed and to leave the rest alone....

I'm learning about the things that can be improved a bit as well as learning the things that no amount of work will ever fix.

The good news is that the cafeteria where I go for rehab is wonderful! So I go to rehab at 11 and then lunch at 12! They have little healthy snacky things. Last week I bought a few of them for my lunch and brought home what I couldn't eat and I snacked on them for supper.

I was really happy to get out and about for a change and the people I encountered there were so very patient with me. Manoevering a walker around people is not so easy as it looks. hee heh

I had my tray on the seat of the walker and had picked up my hot dish and then had to wing it over to get a drink out of the cooler. Next I had to wing back to get a butterscotch pudding (took half home) and also my snacky (cheese, grapes and crackers). Got into line without wiping out any staff or patients. Whew- ee! Major mojo!!!

Uh-oh. I decided I wanted veggies and dip so winged back out of line and cut into where they were stored; whipped that old 4 wheeler around to get back into line. Kool!

Then I had to dig in my purse and get my money out. Cold sweat breaks out on my brow as I try to hold myself upright, not go whump! (an illness has left me with almost no balance), open zipper on purse, zip open the change thingy and dig out the money. Couldn't see the money. Dropped open purse. Sorry, sorry, sorry, oops. Grabbed a bill, only had 2, hoped it was the right one, didn't trust me to grab loonies (besides I needed a looney and a tooney to get home free from the parking lot). Whew. was the right bill. Accept change and hope it goes in the opening of the purse and not the holes in the basket of the walker. Whew again.

The angels are smiling on me today.

Appologize for being so slow and awkward. Everyone I've held up, nearly mowed down in th eprime of their lives, smiles kindly at me and tells me not to worry. I'm ok. Thankfully so are the people around me, all of them within at least 100 yards or so in all directions.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

On Mother's Day (Etsy Bloggers Carnival May 5, 2008)

My mother loved to make angels. She crocheted big ones, small ones and all sizes in between. She didn't have a pattern for them. She didn't write her pattern down. Each angel was unique and hand made.

I remember one of Mom's birthday parties at which Mom distributed a tiny angel to each and every one of her guests. She had worked for weeks making them. I think one of my cousins even took two or three.  We all enjoyed these heavenly treats.

Mom was generous at giving out her angels. For years her eye doctor and his staff each received an angel at Christmas time. Mom always seemed to have at least one angel in her purse ready to give to someone who she felt might be in need of one. Cab drivers, shopkeepers, bus drivers, even strangers she met throughout her day all were blessed with her special gift.

To celebrate the millennium, Mom made tall pillow dolls using a millennium fabric. They were beautiful creations in gold and white.

Her children and grandchildren received little six inch angels. These had underskirts in our favourite colours.

It was always an adventure to find objects for wings and porcelain faces and hands, or to find enough balls of white and ecru crochet cotton around the holidays. I still have a stash of little dolls that Mom had planned on incorporating into her latest angelic design.

It will be 3 years this Mother's Day that we've celebrated without her. Like my mother before me I have to learn to 'suck it in' and get on with the business of living. At one time there were 3 mothers living under one roof. Mom had to learn to live without her mother for companionship when my own daughter was only 5 years old. Now a grown woman she tries to make Mother's day special for me.

We met with the minister when Mom died and discussed her prolific disbursement of angelic creations. At the funeral he mentioned these angels and asked the congregation for a show of hands of those who had received at least one of these angels. This request was met with laughter and I heard a rustling from the congregation that filled the little chapel. I didn't even have to turn my head to know that every single person in that room had raised their hand.

When the organist began to play Mom's 2 favourite hymns I swear I could hear her voice belting out the melody. And every Angel in the celestial kingdom joined right in.


I'd like to close this entry with the following prose created by one of the funeral director's for a memorial evening for bereaved families at Christmastime. I think it is just as pertinent for Mother's Day. It brings me peace.

  • In the rising of the sun and in its going down, we will remember them.
  • In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we will remember them.
  • In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, we will remember them.
  • In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we will remember them.
  • In the beginning of the year and in its end, we will remember them.
  • When we are weary and in need of strength, we will remember them.
  • When we are lost and sick at heart, we will remember them.
  • So long as we live, they shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.